Since the last post introducing my new car, a 1969 Saab named Stella, several friends have asked about her name, specifically wondering how I chose it. The truth is that she came with the name Stella, and although buying a car gives the new owner the privilege of re-naming things, I’ve kept the name for a couple reasons.
First, I like the repetition of S’s. It’s fun, like Aaron the Aardvark or Christopher the Coyote, the latter both my cousin’s name and a character in a series of children’s stories my grandfather once wrote, an old onionskin copy of which resides in one of my desk drawers. Second, the name makes me think of the Stella character from “A Streetcar Named Desire”: a fun loving party gal who’s simultaneously tough as nails and, when the shit hits the fan (think of what Stanely does to Blanche…), a woman more than capable of putting her head down and fighting on. Not bad qualities to have in a car you’re trying to get back together.
For those wondering how things are going—I rebuilt the carburetor and miraculously got it right; with a little help from some friends it’s been installed and tuned and Stella sounds great. The brake master cylinder, which had been shipped to NY to be rebuilt, came back, and after some struggles getting everything re-installed I finally succeeded. Friends came over and provided the foot power to bleed the brake lines, which was a cramped and dirty job but one that’s now finished.
All of this means that Stella now has the ability to move as well as the ability to stop that same movement—it’s strange how essential the latter ability is, especially in a city; it’s certainly the far-less-sexy component of transportation, stopping is, but I get the solid impression my neighbors value it over its opposite, and I drove her around the block a couple times the other day and again last night.
She handles great, far better than I was expecting, and while I’m still adjusting to shifting on the column (I learned to drive on a manual but have always had the stick on the floor, not the tree), I have to think that the only way to get good at it is to keep on practicing. I don’t trust the mechanic who’s rebuilding her enough to venture too far from home yet, but for now I’m pleased with the progress and hopeful that in a couple weeks I’ll have even more to share.